From the moment I realized I could do anything at all, I wanted to be involved. That is, I wanted in on the action, one of the players, a contributor, a member of the cast. I would not accept anything that put me in the audience—my desperation was to be participating on stage and not a passive observer or fanatic.
It was a noble thought that did not easily come to fruition, but that did not dowse the wave of dreams I pursued or attempts to make any of them into the slightest reality. So, I spent all of my time absorbing nuances from everyone already on the stage of life.
This took studying; not the academic brand, I hated the theater of school. The course I chose to take demanded awareness.
Ut oh. Like climbing a mountain with a peak hidden in the clouds, you cannot see the destination.
Youth is rarely equipped to run through such a gauntlet. Emotional bruises are guaranteed; some of them leaving deep scars. There are few teachers available to guide oneself against the plethora of the passive who set aflame every hurdle one needs to clear. I was raw meat to such vultures; open to anything that would sensationalize upon my inexperience. My young nerves were exposed. It was near impossible to perceive inspiration.
The early pickings created a Mulligan’s Stew, exposing me to areas in which I would never endeavor, mixing chalk with cheese and many lumbering elements repelled by one another. Innocence strains the senses to survive a major enemy—self-consciousness.
Public speaking, studies have proven, is the greatest ally of self-consciousness. Most people surrender to it immediately. I did not; I struggled with it ferociously and there were times it wrestled me to my knees. Still, I stayed aware and I challenged it. Though it never disappeared, I wore it down by inviting it to do its worse, and once I survived those attacks, I was in charge, if not totally.
You see, there is no trick or gimmick or medicine or rat poison that will murder self-consciousness. Passive forces advise acts of faith, an attention to a belief that none of the five human senses can comprehend, which only introduces more conflict. The only thing that makes self-consciousness weak is the lie that it has control. Once convinced of that, it becomes impotent.
Maybe that lie is God?
Many still say to me, “The truth shall set you free.”
I retort, “I do not need the truth. I am already free.”
So, that’s that.
When I arrived in Hollywood, a fledgling writer, failure followed me from New York City, Dante’s model for Hell’s first level—Limbo. Regardless of being broke and on the brink of homelessness within a month, I used the methods of survival that oppose passive behavior—begging, borrowing and stealing. They were no culpable actions; they were the lies that sustained me.
Poof, went self-consciousness and all the other inner enemies that Freud explained that drag us through the years in the names of love and peace and carefulness.
I did not return to New York City.
It would take some time and a lot more insidious conduct to find my “voice.” There were dramas and tears and misgivings and there was elation and disappointment …
… but all of it was active.
I am vulnerable but I am busy. I am still but I am dynamic. I am the work. I am in progress. I wander the longer, wider, darker streets, where shadows are distinct.
I forever dance, not stroll, through life.
Even when I lose, I win.